Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Holiday Love


It was a most wonderful, and successful Vegan Thanksgiving here, with a full table, overflowing plates, good wine, and lots of love. Think you can't have a Holiday Feast without a dead animal artfully displayed on the table? Think again, my friends! I've cooked a lot of Thanksgiving dinners in my time, and I know my way around a turkey. Normally you'll hear the opening round of compliments to the chef - The turkey is perfect! So moist! Who made the green bean casserole? I love this stuff! Pass the potatoes, etc... and then talk turns to other things, depending on the group around the table. This was the first time in all my years of feeding people that the conversation pretty much stayed on the food. I went all out and cooked for two days straight, creating a meal like non of us had ever experienced, and it was awesome, if I do say so myself.





You can read more about it on my other blog, PositivelVegan, and get all the menu details and recipes. Try one dish at a time and see what you think. I bet your mouth will be very happy. I'm so pleased with my ability to make a huge meal in a small kitchen, I'm planning for Christmas already, starting with dessert. I'm considering a moist, spicy gingerbread cake (like the stuff they used to serve at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, back in the day), with a goopy, saucy, baked apple topping. The rest of the meal will come to me. It always does.

I'm also wishing really, really hard for  a kitchen island. If I was a Rich Lady, I'd remodel the whole kitchen, or at least have a truly perfect island custom built to fit the space. For now, my Dream Island Getaway, ready-to-assemble from Overstock.com, looks like this... (Santa, do you read my blog...?)
But it's not all about food and cooking. I have business to take care of too. I'm still a beadmaker by trade, and this is no time to quit my "day job." The Taos Folk show opened on Friday, with a line of people waiting outside the door. It was a delightful Taos-Style Black Friday scene, with people chatting happily, and politely streaming through the door at the civilized hour of 10 AM. The opening night party was packed with happy shoppers, and Saturday morning looked good too, when I dropped by for a little while to straighten up my display. 




I think I've already mentioned that this is the first show I've done in several years, and the first craft show in ages. I switched to bead shows at some point, after realizing that people who attend bead shows already know what they're looking at, where as craft show go-ers need considerably more educating. After the third person walked up to my display on Saturday and commented on my "lovely bags," it occurred to me that I might put up a little sign reading, "Free Handmade Glass Bead with every Bag!"


Fortunately (or maybe not so), I don't have to be there to sell my work, so I have time to be in the studio making more, and tending to my website and blogs. It's all manageable, and I'm having fun with it, waiting to see what surfaces, what "wants" to be made. Playing Christmas music at full volume the other day, I found myself inspired to make Cupcake Beads and Snow Globes. What a surprise! I thought I was finished with both of those, but there they were, wanting another turn at the torch, so I obliged.


Today I'll take their pictures and post them on my website. On Friday, I'll take any that are left to the show. And that's how I plan to work my "bead weeks" from now until Christmas. Beads up Tuesday, down Thursday, mail Friday, move the rest to the show. Boom, boom, boom. If you're shopping, shop fast! And if you're not on my mailing list, now is a good time to join. You'll get a note when the beads are ready to go, and you'll also be entered in a Surprise Bead Drawing to be held later this month. Click HERE to add your name to the Beadist Mailing List.

I hope you're all enjoying the Holidays as much as I am!
Cheers!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Because You Don't Have To

I wonder what most of us are thinking more about - Thanksgiving, or Black Friday. I'm hosting a small family feast this year, and my vegan menu is pretty extensive, largely experimental, and probably more labor intensive than I think it will be. That's where my energy is going this week, from list making, to recipe notes, to shopping and prepping ahead wherever I can. I'm excited to be doing all this, so it's not a chore. I'm thankful that I can do all this, and I'm doing it because I want to.

The Taos Folk Holiday Show that I'm in starts Friday though, and even though I thought I was prepared for it, it's taking up more of my time this week than I want it to. Set-up is not the streamlined event I'd imagined. I was led to believe I would drop my inventory off yesterday, and the show's designer would display it artfully for me. Not so... I don't even want to go into the details, but I will say I spent several hours there yesterday, doing and re-doing my display, and have to go back again today. I'm kind of not thrilled, but I'm in for the ride, and I just have to trust it will all work out perfectly. It always does, right?

I really just want to get it all done so I can get back to Thanksgiving, the Holiday at Hand, and give it its proper attention and reverence. I don't want to think about Christmas yet, and all it implies, particularly the list of things I "have to" do. Admittedly, my list gets shorter every year. I don't send cards, I don't give gifts to anyone but my kids, and they get less and less each year. I'm sure I'll be cooking a lot, but as for the rest of it, if it's something I'm expected to do, I'll probably rebel.

I saw something yesterday that made me want to do it because I don't have to. It's called the Gift Project, and from the looks of the website, it's a brand new baby. The idea is to give small (or large), unexpected gifts to strangers, or people you know, along with a little card you can print from the website, and maybe a note explaining that the one who is gifted is supposed to pass the card, and a gift of some sort, along to someone else. It's a Pay-It-Forward-Random-Acts-Of-Kindness sort of thing, all nice and fresh and shined up.


I read on Facebook that a friend had been treated to lunch by the man in line ahead of her at Subway, and was handed the little card along with her sandwich. It was a small thing, but it made her day, and inspired her to do something, probably many somethings, for someone else. I recently received an Amazon gift card from a bead customer friend who wanted to give me a creatively inspiring book, but didn't know what I'd like. It was wonderful, it made me so happy I cried, and mostly it made me feel valued and cared for. How lovely when someone does something kind because they want to, not because they have to. 

I'm in. I'm printing cards today and going out into the world to see what kind of Gifting Mischief I can get myself into. As soon as I finish the have-to list for the show, I'll get right back to being in the Holiday Moment, thankful to be able to do small things for others... simply because I want to. And while I hope people will show the show, my real attention isn't going there just yet. I have other things to do.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Have a New Helper


I've been putting a lot of thought and energy into the Taos Folk show, which starts the day after Thanksgiving. I need to have my inventory there on Monday, which means I have a lot of organizing to do over the weekend. Since I haven't done a show of any kind in several years, I'm thinking a lot about just why I'm doing this one. Sure, I hope to sell some beads and make some money, but really, for me, it's more about adding to my customer base. Whether or not people buy my work at the show, there's great potential for getting them to shop on my website later. I need to make the most of the exposure a five week show can bring, and I want to keep shoppers interested for years, not just weeks.

The show promoter is happy to have her artists do all the shameless self promotion we want, so I'm working on a guest book, where I hope to gather a lot of email addresses for my Beadist Mailing List. To entice people to sign up, I'm entering all new subscribers in a drawing for a free Bead Surprise. It might work! We all like to win stuff, right?

And, as always, one thought leads to another, and I started thinking I could use this approach to get new subscribers to join online. Why not? The VIB Lounge was kind of a flop, so it's gone, but everyone on that list is now on the new Beadist Email list. And to encourage new people to sign up, I'm going to hold a monthly drawing right here, and will automatically include all new Beadist Email subscribers in the drawing. Brilliant, if I do say so myself!

I've been using Gmail for a long time, with the intention of signing up for MailChimp at some point. Today is the day, and I wish I'd done it sooner. How sweet it is to have everything automated, with sign up forms, opt-in/out made easy, and fancy email templates to spiff things up. And best of all, the Chimp is free! Second best is, it's cute. I like to keep it fun and not too businessy. And now I feel so organized, so smart, so powerful. Go me! Go MailChimp, you little cutie pie!

I've scattered links to the new signup form all over the place, and I'll give you another one HERE.
Come on! Join the list! I promise not to bother you with too much email, I'll never share your information, and best of all, you might win something wonderful!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Invitation!

It's been years since I've done a show of any kind, and the time has come to get myself out there again. Please join me, and many other talented Taos Artists, for Taos Folk. It runs from nest Friday, November 25 (the day after Thanksgiving) until Christmas Eve. We'll all be there opening night, with good food, great, affordable gift items for everyone on your list, and lots of festive fun. If you come to Taos for the show on any other day, and would like me to meet you there, send me an email and I'll schedule it in! For more information, visit the TaosFolk website. I hope to see you at the show!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the Secret Life of Sleep

My friend and neighbor, Kat Duff, has just started a wonderful, entertaining, informative blog called the Secret Life of Sleep. Kat is working on a book on the subject, and has attracted the interest of two different publishers, so I trust we'll get to read all about it eventually. Until then, I look forward to her blog posts, where I'm already learning some interesting things about why I'm up in the middle of the night, reading a blog about why I'm up in the middle of the night. I know I'm not alone in this! Here's to a good night's sleep, or at least part of one!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Twitter


When my post about Sushi was featured on BlogHer the other day, the editor over there gently suggested that I get myself on Twitter. Excited to be a featured blogger, I was eager to please. I had tried Twitter once before, but never really caught on to what to do with it. I could figure out how to tweet, but couldn't figure out why I should. Still, I decided to give it another go, so I re-opened my Twitter account, updated my information, and loaded the app to my phone. Okay. All set. Now what?

First maybe I should explain what I'm doing on BlogHer in the first place. I write both of my blogs on Blogger. It's where I started out, and I like and understand the software. TakingTheLongWayHome is more of a personal journey sort of blog, so I've been happy to have it sit in one place, waiting to be found by people who know me. But when I started PositivelyVegan, I knew I wanted to try to reach a larger audience, and I knew they were out there somewhere, all the newly emerging vegans, looking for information, good food, and inspiration. I decided to post my veg-blog on three different blogging platforms, Blogger, BlogHer, and Tumbler. It's an easy way to find more readers, and it's a lot of fun when I get a featured spot on the heavy hitter BlogHer main page. It's happened three times now, and I just know this has to be good exposure, although it's way too soon to quit my day job.

My Dream Life looks something like Cooking, Writing, Feeding People, Traveling, and Making Beads Just For Fun. Sort of like Anthony Bourdain, only more artistic, and not an arrogant bastard. Don't get me wrong, I love his show, even though we have decidedly different eating habits. He's just such a buffoon when it comes to vegetarians. I honestly hope I never ever meet him, because I think he would be a big mean bully, and who needs that crap? I'm here to spread the love.

Anyway, any goal is reached with baby steps, and sometimes big steps or leaps, but the point is, you have to do something other than just sit there wishing. So in my case, I cook the food, I write the blogs, and I do what I can to shamelessly self-promote on a budget - that budget being exactly zero dollars. Cross referencing blogs and Facebook are good ways to reach readers and connect with like-minds. And then there's Twitter... which still baffles me somewhat, although I'm beginning to see some value in it. I'm reading articles on how to make the most of it, and I check in now and then to see how other people use it. I've come up against tougher challenges than Twitter in my life. Surely I can find my way through this one too.

I'd like to start some conversation here by way of comments so we can all participate. Are you on Twitter? Why? How do you use it? Why do you like it or not like it? Do you have any tips for the rest of us? Please share! And if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I am @PositivelyVegan.

Guess I'd better go tweet now. Or cook something. Hmmm...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

iPhonotography

I have three cameras. One is a nice Sony Something-or-Other that I take bead pictures with. It's lets me adjust lots of things, and have more control over my pictures, but it's too big to carry everywhere. So I also have a cute little pink Olympus that fits in even my smallest purse. It does some pretty cool things too, and used to travel everywhere with me... until I got my iPhone.

When phones these days have cameras that can do the job on an everyday level, there's little need for me to haul around extra gadgets, so I've been putting the phone's camera to the test. Granted, there aren't a lot of settings to fiddle with, so there's not a lot of control, but in the right light, or even in the right moment, I can get some very satisfactory photos. I'm certainly not a professional photographer. I don't know my aperture from my elbow. But I like to try to capture what I see, and if it's ever possible to have a camera implanted in my eyes, I'll do it. I've missed some amazing moments because I didn't have a camera close by. But I always have my phone with me, so that's happening less and less. What I lose in technical perfection, I gain in spontaneity, and that's good enough for me. I also kind of like the odd, grainy "toy camera" effects I sometimes get.

This is my view from my perch in the kitchen this morning. Well sort of. I held the camera low to get the snow on the rose bushes.


Jacob came over to play for a while yesterday, and I caught him and Rick being silly together.



And when the afternoon sun slanted through the windows and smacked into a bunch of white roses Rick had brought me, there was nothing to do but stop everything and take some pictures.




I'm also perfectly okay with making adjustments in iPhoto or Photoshop. Who cares! Often a picture with too little light can be made to look like a lovely antique image I might have found in someone's attic. The goal is to come up with something visually pleasing. So far, I'm pretty pleased.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Time


Spring forward, fall back. Phooey! I think Daylight Saving Time is kind of silly, and wish we'd just quick messing with Time. I could move to Arizona, where they've stopped trying to outsmart daylight, but I'm happy in Taos, so I pretty much ignore clocks all together, except on the two days a year when I have to try to remember where all the clocks in the house are, and then reset them all one hour in the appropriate direction.

This morning I woke up when the sky was light, like I usually do, and didn't think about the time at all. When Rick mumbled that it was "really" only 6:30, I said, I don't care. I'm awake, to which he replied, I wanna be like you... And we both got up and started the semi-annual Clock Hunt. It's sort of like an Easter Egg Hunt, and as with hidden eggs, even though we're the ones who hid them, there's always one that goes missing.

Fortunately, our computers and phones reset themselves. They're so smart. But astonishingly, I counted ten other clocks that need to be personally reset. Ten? There's a big one on the kitchen wall, above the fridge, plus the one on the stove, which really can't be trusted because the power blips out so often here. There's one on the CD player in the living room. There's one in the bathroom, for days we actually have to be someplace at a certain time, one in the studio, and one on the guest room. We both have watches to reset, although I never wear mine because it interferes with bracelets. And then there are the clocks in our cars. I know Rick's has to be reset by hand, and assume mine does too, but this is my first Time Change since we bought it, so I really don't know. Maybe they're making cars as smart as phones these days. Seems like they could if they wanted to.

Ten clocks. I guess that's all. I could be missing one, but it really wouldn't matter. It won't rot like a stray hard boiled egg, and besides, I rarely look at any of them anyway. So why do we have so many? I'm not sure I know. I think they're kind of pretty, some of them. I lean towards retro-styled clocks, with hands that ease their way through the day. When I need to know what time it is, I prefer saying, Oh, it's about 3:30, rather than, It's 3:27. Digital clocks have their place, but the precision is kind of creepy to me, overkill for my normally casual daily flow. I do what I'm doing until I'm done, and then I do what's next.

Sometimes I look at the clock, and judge where I "should" be in my day, and it always makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. Should I be finished blogging by a certain time? Should I be in the studio by a certain time? Should I have dinner on the table for my hungry man by a certain time? Yeah, right... It all sounds so crazy to me, but I still fall into the trap occasionally. Sometimes I even come up with an "ideal" schedule for myself, thinking I'll be all kinds of super productive if I just stick to the schedule. That always lasts about half a day, and I go back to my drifting sort of time-keeping.

Ten clocks. I don't know. I think it must be a habit that goes back to those big round clocks on classroom walls. Be on time. Even a little early. Never tardy. Do your work. Move on. I don't have to operate that way anymore, although I'm a little bit obsessed with being on time for appointments, or when I'm meeting someone out in the world. Lateness is a way of life in Taos, and I find it incredibly rude. I think it's a symptom of a self-absorbed society, full of lazy people who can't be bothered to think about anyone but themselves. Harsh? Yes, I know. But in this town, businesses actually advertise, "We show up, and we're on time." That's how bad it is.

So I'm an on-time person who has little use for clocks in my daily life. And still, I have 10 clocks, not including my phone and computer... I think it's time to let some of them go. Imagine all the time I'll save, twice a year, when I don't have to hunt all over the house for all those hidden "eggs." Oh, and I just remembered where the missing one is hiding... it's on the DVD player, inside the lovely Mexican armoire the TV lives in. This means I have eleven clocks to reset, but I will not even attempt to change that last digital menace, and I promise to never look at it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Season's Readings

I never seem to have time to read, but for some reason I've been ordering a growing stack of books lately. Cookbooks are my favorite, and I'm adding nutrition books to the list to help me with PositivelyVegan. I guess it's all a business expense, but it doesn't matter. I'd buy them anyway. I'm also ordering various books to give as gifts this holiday season, but to be honest, most of them are for me.

There are no novels in the mix, which is odd. Normally I enjoy checking out of my own head and into someone else's for a while in the evenings, usually at bedtime. But now I don't care much about fiction because the new and ever-changing realities of our world are so fascinating to me. I've been listening to things like the Aware Show and Hay House Radio while I make beads. Maybe that's where all this is coming from. There are so many interesting people out there, talking about cutting edge, changing-world stuff, and of course all of them have a book to sell. I don't buy most of them, and sometimes a show won't resonate with me at all, and I'll abandon it for my favorite African Essentials station on Pandora Radio. God, I love the internet. So many options, literally at my fingertips.

One of the books I'm looking forward to getting is Life Before Life: Children's Memories of Previous Lives, by Jim B. Tucker. I heard an interview with him the other day, and was so amazed by his research. It's not new-agey-woo-woo, but scientific and even somewhat skeptical on his part. It hooked me in because of something my daughter Lauren said to me when she was only two or three. She looked me in the eye, and very seriously asked, "Mama, do you remember when I was the mama and you were the baby?" I have no idea why I didn't ask her more about this memory of hers, and it's too late now I suppose, since she's nearly 26, just barely younger than I was at that time. But wow... I want to know more about what's happening out there!

The other book I'm eager to dive into is Deep Truth, by Gregg Braden. Here's the blurb from Amazon: "Best-selling author and visionary scientist Gregg Braden suggests that the hottest topics that divide us as families, cultures, and nations—seemingly disparate issues such as war, terrorism, abortion, genocide, poverty, economic collapse, climate change, and nuclear threats—are actually related. They all stem from a worldview based upon the false assumptions of an incomplete science." I find it astonishing and exciting to learn that so much of what we think we know, and what we continue to teach our kids, is old, outdated, inaccurate information. Remember when the world was flat? Again... wow!

My only problem is time... and the fact that I'm a very slow reader. But the world is changing, and I feel like I either need to keep up with it or turn to stone. Maybe it's time to order a good book on speed reading, and while I'm at it, a typing course. I can't believe I've still not learned to type properly. My mistakes per minute are much more numerous than my words per minute. As in everything, it's all baby steps. Set the intention, and take a step forward. One thing is for certain. I would do well to spend less time with Netflix (and all their silliness), and more time in the evenings, reading by the fire.

Picture borrowed from The Broke and the Bookish

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

11-1-11

The last few days have been absolute Taos Perfection. We do a fabulous Halloween here, and this year it felt like it went on for days. There was a quiet spot in the revelry on Sunday evening, when we went out to watch the sunset on the mesa with friends. It's a magical place out there, with enormous views in all directions. I stood in one spot, and took pictures all around me as the sun slipped lower and lower, and the light changed with each passing moment. 


Halloween has its own wonderful, but very different sort of magic. The whole town gathers in costume in the plaza area, and while the kids beg candy from the local businesses, adults visit and enjoy the small town spooky celebration. It was such fun to have our little grandson Jacob along this year, for his first Halloween at 6 months old. He is truly a magical part of our lives.


And here we are at the start of another November. Already? I feel like we're living in a time warp, where nothing, especially time, behaves the way it used to. No sense fighting it. We might as well enjoy the ride. Happy November!